Category: Tidbit Tuesday

The World Spins Madly On:
Deb Talan of the Weepies announces breast cancer diagnosis

December 17th, 2013 — 7:31pm

In days to come when your heart feels undone
may you always find an open hand
and take comfort wherever you can…

– Deb Talan, Comfort

Before she became half of popular folkpop duo The Weepies, Deb Talan was a singer-songwriter whose early solo albums overflowed with surprisingly touching acoustic guitar-playing and plaintive, sincere, literate lyrics sung in a sweet little-girl voice – a combination which blew us away when we first found her, entirely by accident, at a tiny basement coffeehouse in Northampton, MA just after the release of her first studio album Something Burning, and we fell head over heels in love.

Since we love indiefolk beats and close harmonies, and harbor no hipster sentiment here at Cover Lay Down, we were thrilled when her subsequent duo work with Steve Tannen – a life-and-music partnership built on mutual appreciation, and the common motifs of nature and sensitive souls – began to take flight in the alt and indie worlds, making The Weepies soft and well-deserved darlings of the early blogging community. And though it’s hard to stay in love with a band that has generally eschewed touring for family (officially, the duo has only toured twice since 2006), we were happy, too, to hear of the births of their three sons after their marriage – happy, that is, to hear of such happiness, in those who had given the world so much, and so well.

Talan and Tannen’s successes on the charts and at home make yesterday’s revelation that Deb has been diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer all the more poignant. But in typical fashion, the couple seems upbeat about their prospects, noting that the unexpected side effects of diagnosis include “feeling very grateful to be living in the 21st century, having a lot more patience when our boys get crazy, REALLY enjoying making music right now”, and following their original post with a second note, today, thanking their fans and friends for their support, inviting folks to send Deb a love note or care package or a few words of encouragement via snail mail, and encouraging everyone to “make an appointment for yourself to get your yearly cancer screening, right now.”

Though we find ourselves saddened by the news, Talan’s songwriting provides its own solace, in its way, with lyrics that speak to, and comfort, the heart. And although I daresay Talan and Tanner are most often the better interpreters of their own songs – pretty much every song they have ever produced is a gem, eminently worth purchasing and savoring ad infinitum – there’s a few covers out there which manage to make these precious songs vibrant and new without sullying their reputation or burying the lede. Here to prove it: a small set of coverfolk versions, from tender to triumphant, that aptly reflect the couple’s strength and wisdom, with our best wishes and neverending kudos to Deb, Steve, Theo, Alex, and Nicholas for keeping their heads high and their spirits clear as they plan for an uncertain future.

6 comments » | Covered In Folk, The Weepies, Tidbit Tuesday

Laura Cortese Moves Into The Dark
with exclusive covers of Laura Veirs, Emmylou Harris, and more!

April 23rd, 2013 — 6:49pm

Although she’s only been recording for a decade, Boston-based fiddler, singer-songwriter, Berklee College of Music graduate and Boston Celtic Music Fest co-founder Laura Cortese has earned our respect and fandom dozens of times over, thanks to vibrant, voracious, and versatile output we described back in 2011 as “grounded in the lush, joyous, gleeful sound of the collaborative at work and play, and built around Cortese‚Äôs full-bodied, percussive, lusty fiddlework, her hearty yet oh-so-feminine vocals, and her playful, surprisingly deep songwriting.”

Indeed, one of Cortese’s great strengths as an artist is her willingness to build each new project from the ground up, letting each incidence find its own voice anew, with partners or in solo guise. As such, Cortese’s solo work, and her legendary collaborations with Jefferson Hamer, indietrad stars Aoife O’Donovan and Sam Amidon, pubfolk band Session Americana, Michael Franti, Pete Seeger, and numerous fellow fiddlefolk have run the gamut from sparse singer-songwriter to full-bore tradfolk, modern folk rock and folkpop, and chamberfolk, making for a surprisingly diverse canon for such a young musician.

Cortese’s newest project Into The Dark, which drops today, finds her performing and touring under her own name with a chamberfolk trio of equally adept stringplayers – cellist Natalie Haas, and Brittany Haas and Mariel Vandersteel on fiddles – plus plenty of special guests, and the results are sublime: hearty vocals over rich, poppy layers of fiddlefolk, kickdrums, and harmony that make the heart sing and the feet ache to move, with a contemporary mix of traditional, classical, and indie elements that speak to Cortese’s easy confidence at the crossroads of what modern folk is, and can be, at its best. Her promotional tour will take her from coast to coast over the next few months, with shows in NY, VT, ME & MA in the week ahead, and I’m thrilled to note that it will include a stop this Friday in The Parlor Room, a hip, intimate folkvenue recently established by Signature Sounds founder Jim Olsen in the heart of Northampton, with tickets still available as of presstime.

Here’s a pair of exclusive tracks to whet your whistle for the tour and album – a Laura Veirs cover from Into The Dark, and another trickle from that secret Kickstarter covers EP granted to a hardy few who gave to make her last album happen – plus a few previously-posted favorites to remind us of just why Laura Cortese remains atop our list of perennial favorites here at Cover Lay Down. Check ’em out, hit up Laura’s website for tour dates, and purchase Into The Dark today.

1 comment » | Featured Artists, Laura Cortese, Tidbit Tuesday

Back to top